Beyond city borders

My perfect spring day would take me beyond the city borders… a short trip and within less than 30 minutes I’ve reached my destination – I’m on board a boat soaking up the spring sun rays as I gaze on to the famous Zaanse Schans Windmills.

What makes this particularly special is that most tourists can only admire them from land or from large tour boats as “one of the crowd”, but I find myself sat on a charming small fisherman’s boat, dotted with colourful cushions as characterful as their owner, who seems to know every person that passes by.

I snap the best pictures of the pretty windmills, he supplies the best stories and we raise a glass of rosé in toast, followed by a delicious savoury snack shortly after he drops me off at one of these 17th century first factories in the world. 

The factory’s Miller comes out and the two men casually greet each other like old friends, before taking me inside the majestic mill where I learn all about the old milling process. What an adventure! It’s enough to make you work up an appetite – so happily, my charming host takes me to a lovely brasserie housed in a historic building for lunch, complete with water views and – you guessed it – a great view of those windmills.

The owner tells me that this is the place where various members of the Dutch Royal family have been coming for decades, attending luncheons and events. He also points out a beautiful house across the water, now a little museum, but once home to the Honig family and their paper company C. & J. Honig, which supplied the paper that made the Netherland’s first paper money. At the time, the company’s reputation for quality was known all over the globe… Guess who supplied the paper for the US declaration of independence?

After all this old-world charm, I check out a modern art exhibition in a former munitions factory in the area, now host to some creative minds and talented local artists. Then time to make my way back into town, I’m meeting some friends at a microbrewery which is located underneath… yep, no prizes for guessing… a windmill! The tallest one in Amsterdam in fact. What a treat to sample their delicious craft beers in the evening sun whilst admiring one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. A perfect end to my windmill-shaped day.

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